The Sebastian City Council voted unanimously to remove the mask ordinance Wednesday on local businesses. It will now be up to businesses on whether to enforce face masks.
An executive order by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis superseded the city’s ability to penalize or enforce masks.
“We removed the paragraph that mandated masks at businesses as well as the enforcement mechanism. The resolution now states that masks must be worn in city buildings, and we recommend wearing masks when social distancing is not possible,” Vice Mayor Jim Hill told Sebastian Daily.
Under section 1 of the ordinance, all employees working with the public in Sebastian have to wear face masks. But some members of the council felt that the businesses should decide.
Councilman Bob McPartlan agreed to strike the part of Section 1 of the ordinance.
“I don’t want to tell anybody they got to wear a mask, but there are people who are dying out here,” McPartlan said. “It’s like when you go into a store, it says ‘No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.’ If that business wants to add on there ‘No Mask, No Service,’ I am in an agreement with that.”
McPartland added that if a business requires people to wear a mask, and if people are against it, they can go to another store.
Councilman Chris Nunn said most business owners in Sebastian are a little annoyed with the mask mandate. He said some will still require their employees to wear them, while others will not.
“As a business owner, they have the right to do that. Every business owner should have the right to run their business as they see fit. It is their business, it’s their life, it’s their money, and I don’t think we should tell them they have to mandate it,” Nunn said.
Councilman Fred Jones also agreed to modify the ordinance by removing the first section that enforces Sebastian workers to wear masks.
Most citizens at the meeting spoke about the mandate and said they are not in favor of it. They say it violates their freedoms.
Mayor Ed Dodd said he takes the mask-wearing personally because his brother died of COVID-19 without any other preexisting condition.
However, during the vote, Dodd voted in favor of modifying the mandate with hesitation.
In the end, the council voted 5-0 to modify the mandate and allow local businesses to decide whether or not to require masks in their establishments.
While the city voted to lift the mandate on businesses, it is the Florida governor’s executive order that blocked them from penalizing or enforcing masks in the first place.